No, not the 80s pop group, my run on Sunday, the Givaudan Ashford 10k. In contrast to Saturday, Sunday brought rain, rain and even more rain. In fact I have since learned that the run became perilously close to being cancelled because of the atrocious conditions.
I arrived at the Julie Rose Stadium in Kennington, Ashford in good time to collect my timing chip and then like many other runners and spectators huddled in the cafe and indoor track looking out miserably at the rain and the skies, just hoping for a glimpse of the sun. We were just putting off the inevitable really, we were going to get wet – very wet.
There were a few brave souls “warming up” on the track or were they just acclimatising to being wet. The tannoy started to call runners to the start area about twenty minutes before the start time – no chance, mate. What do you think we are, stupid? Ah yes, maybe we are! Anyway, gradually people started to drift over reluctantly to the start area and in a way, the weather brought about a sense of camaraderie and pre-race chatter. And then we all started to jump up and down, lemming style! Trying to dodge rain drops or keep warm, I’m not sure but it gave us something to do.
No local celebrity to start the race (or maybe there was but they very sensibly decided to stay put under cover). The gun just very abruptly sounded and we were off.
The run takes you out of the Stadium and then right, up and over a railway bridge. I heard one runner reassure his mate that this was the only hill – hmm, right, not sure that’s entirely true but never mind. And then when we got to the top of the hill, the sight that awaited us was unbelievable – when did this become a steeplechase event? I do not jest, the entire width of the road was flooded and the only options were to run through or try to navigate the very muddy, narrow, grassy verge to one side. I opted for the latter in an attempt to save my trainers – I needn’t have bothered!
It was not long after this point that one of the marshals told us we were looking good. A runner next to me quipped “That means we don’t!” and managed to raise a few laughs.
At the drinks station, another runner threw his cup of water over a marshal, presumably to give them an idea of how we felt but the said marshal was probably just as wet. Fortunately they seemed to take it all in good spirits.
The rest of the run passed reasonably peacefully, my first kilometre was 6 mins so I was happy with that, especially in view of the obstacles put in our way but then the second was 5 mins. Oh dear, Jones, slow down, remember the objective is to get around with no walking. After that I managed a steady 5 and a half minute pace and although there were points in the last 3k when I started to worry about achieving this objective, I’m not entirely sure this wasn’t down to my previous experiences – I’m starting to expect to feel bad and in need of a walk. Whereas, although this wasn’t easy, there was no point where I thought it’s no good, I’ve got to walk. And once I’d got passed the 9k sign, there was no way I was walking.
So I crossed the finish line in 54’ 26”, my second best 10k time ever and my second best 10k time at Ashford – so I’ll be back next year!
One final incident on the way back to the car park though – a naked man trying to change into dry clothing in his car! I’d brought dry clothes with me too (and that’s when you know you’re getting old – when you think ahead and bring extra clothes and trainers with you) but I still left the wet base layer of clothes on!
So with that run done and dusted, I now need some new running objectives. My confidence boosted a bit, I have now entered the Paddock Wood Half Marathon which I did last year (and managed to get to the railway bridge at mile 10 before needing a walk). But that’s over five months away so my mini goal is to get my Parkrun PB down under 26 minutes. Roll on Saturday (and please could it be dry!)